Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Three young, tech-focused startups in Arlington were among 41 projects across the state awarded $2.51 million in funding.

The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards, announced by Gov. Ralph Northam on June 6, included grant funding for Fend Incorporated — a Startup Monday frequent guest — NOVI LLC and SeeHear LLC.

The CRCF is run through the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a non-profit corporation funded in part through the state to promote technological development in Virginia.

Fend Incorporated adds a system with a physical beam-link used to transfer data in otherwise digital systems, making them less prone to hacking. The company was awarded $50,000.

NOVI LLC develops autonomous, intelligent satellites and was awarded $48,700.

SeeHear LLC is a corporation that commercializes earlier government research into web-based speech programs for adults with hearing loss. The company was awarded $50,000.

According to a spokesperson for CIT, proposals undergo a multi-stage review process, including assessments by subject matter experts and evaluation by the CIT Board of Directors.

“Virginia is recognized as one of the most innovative states in the nation, and we know that identifying and supporting Virginia innovators at critical early stages through state-funded programs like CRCF is key to maintaining and expanding our leadership role,” Northam said in a press release. “The Commonwealth will continue to deliver programs that facilitate bringing pioneering technologies and ideas to market and create a culture where entrepreneurs will thrive.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Rosslyn-based tech startup Phone2Action — which aims to turn citizens into advocates — announced on May 22 that new funding will mean a global expansion.

The company received a “strategic investment” from Frontier Capital, a private equity investor, according to a press release. But neither representatives of Frontier Capital nor Phone2Action would specify how much money was included in the investment.

“Frontier Capital and Phone2Action are not disclosing the amount of the investment,” said Kristin Steele, a spokesperson for Frontier Capital, “but want to reiterate what the press release said around it being a strategic investment to help fuel future growth for Phone2Action.”

The company bills itself as a “digital grassroots platform,” helping organizations or businesses rally supporters and encouraging them to contact state or local officials. New developments at the company within the last year include email broadcasting features and an advocacy chatbot.

Ximena Hartsock, co-founder of Phone2Action, said the company is looking into expanding the range of products it offers and its markets.

“No changes on staffing at Phone2Action,” said Hartsock, “and we are looking [to use] the support we receive from Frontier to accelerate our growth.”

Partners for the company include Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s, using Phone2Action for a variety of environmental and social advocacy campaigns.

According to the press release, the investment will be used to expand the global outreach of the program and to look into the acquisition of other complementary technologies. The release also notes that the future of grassroots advocacy and public affairs will be reliant on adapting to new technologies like machine learning.

Photo via Phone2Action

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Tinkering with the virtual structure of a company can be hazardous, so instead, Ballston-based startup HyperQube will make a digital clone of a company and then subject it to every horrible cyberattack known to man.

It’s the Portrait of Dorian Gray for the digital age.

“Being able to rapidly clone entire infrastructure, including the networking, allows enterprises to test in ways that used to be too expensive,” Craig Stevenson, founder and CEO, told ARLnow. “Before HyperQube, probing an enterprise’s defenses was costly and dangerous, since you are probing real systems which can’t be taken offline. Now, you could spin up hundreds of exact copies of an enterprise’s defenses and probe them both risk-free and simultaneously, saving massive amounts of effort and eliminating the risk of taking a production system offline.”

HyperQube describes the virtual environment as “alternate realities” that allow users to test, play and break to their hearts’ desire.

The ability to clone digital structures isn’t new, but Stevenson said HyperQube allows the clones to be built and modified quickly.

Various products focus on different scales and targets, like Hyperskill — which uses the cloning method to allow instructors and students to tinker with real systems without potential consequences.

The startup launched in January 2018 after participating in the local cybersecurity accelerator Mach37.

HyperQube ran an event last year where they invited hackers to come participate in a digital competition where, once a platform was shut down, the hackers wrote out detailed explanations of their exploits and offered suggestions on how to fix them.

The company recently signed partnerships with the National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Cisco and other groups. Stevenson said more partnerships were on their way soon, but couldn’t announce any further details. HyperQube also raised $500,000 in seed funding, which is going toward sales, development and new hires.

Stevenson said Arlington has been a great place to run a cyber startup.

“For us, being within 40 minutes of a customer in D.C. or our data center in Ashburn, makes Arlington ideal,” said Stevenson.

Photo via HyperQube

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

In a shocking playoff game, Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard won the series against the 76ers with a buzzer-beating three-point shot.

The tense moment of the ball bouncing precariously around the rim of the basket kept viewers glued to their screens and sharing the moment across social media.

Within moments, Ballston-based company BreakingT was turning it into a t-shirt.

BreakingT turns popular sports moments into authorized fan paraphernalia produced with a rapid turnaround, cofounder and CEO Alex Welsh said.

“The sports fan apparel market is a massive market,” Welsh said. “You can look it up, it’s between $25-$30 billion globally. It’s a global industry. We have found with our data-driven, real-time approach that there’s absolutely a demand.”

The company recently celebrated its five-year anniversary and Welsh has ambitions to keep growing. The company raised $400,000 in angel investments in 2017 and hired its first full-time employee. Now, Welsh said his goal is to raise $2 million to expand licensing and marketing.

“One of our biggest corporate objectives is to make our service and company indispensable,” Welsh said. “We have deals now with 30 pro sports teams. They see the value in what we do — the social value in these big moments.”

Beyond just tracking trending sports moments on social media, the company also has a revenue-sharing agreement with SB Nation — a blogging network owned by D.C.-based Vox Media — where team blogs promote those viral moments and BreakingT’s associated paraphernalia.

Welsh said the NBA playoffs have been a big focus lately. The group has a license from the NBA Players Association that allows them to make official merchandise.

“We’re looking for the very specific moments in these games and what the fans are talking about,” Welsh said. “When he shot the ball at the buzzard, the basketball bounced four times on the rim before it went in. Everybody was holding their breath. It was a massive moment for Toronto fans.”

Welsh said the company’s proximity to D.C. let it build a relationship with the Washington Nationals, which Welsh credits for helping to put BreakingT on the map. From there, the company was able to expand into partnerships in other locations and sports, like a partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Welsh said one of his favorite sports moments captured on BreakingT apparel was when a team leaned into being called a “bunch of jerks.”

“A sports broadcaster called the [Carolina] Hurricanes players a bunch of jerks because they started doing choreographed celebrations on the ice,” Welsh said. “It was breaking with the tradition of hockey, but fans loved it. Our social data monitors were going off about this moment. The team leaned into that, and that’s been one of our biggest hits of all time. We sold over 20,000 units of that one shirt.”

Photo via Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentation

(Update 1:25 p.m.) Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters (CWJ) has a shop in Pentagon City, but the company has its eyes set on bringing cold brew to vending machines nationwide.

The company recently closed on $1.2 million in funding aimed at continuing deployment of Kegerator Vending Machines (KVM), on-tap vending machines that operate as a pay-by-the-ounce self-service kiosk. The company plans aims to raise $4 million.

The coffee shop opened in 2012, but the company pivoted toward delivering office coffee in 2017. The company currently operates the portable machines in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

“The $4 million raised in this round will be used to fuel CWJ’s continued growth in vending, as the tech-enabled coffee brand develops closer ties with [KVM] and continues to take a vending-first approach with its coffee program sales strategy,” the company said in a press release. “The KVM is the only one-of-its-kind in the commercial coffee market, essentially acting as a gas pump and only charging the end-user for the amount of liquid dispensed.”

The machines also allow CWJ to track statistics like consumption habits and inventory depletion. The press release noted that some of the funding is planned to go toward including new features like digital payments, automatic reordering, maintenance issue identification and service ticket creation.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

With nearly $20 million in recent growth, IT startup DivvyCloud based in the Courthouse neighborhood has announced plans for new tech and personnel growth.

The gist of DivvyCloud is pretty simple: scan for security holes in cloud data systems and close them.

The company recently announced that it had achieved $19 million in funding in a recent growth round, bringing the total capital raised to $29 million.

The press release said the new funding will allow the company to extend the policy enforcement capabilities of the software and allow the software to be more easily integrated into other third-party solutions.

“The added investment allows DivvyCloud to make specific technological advancements to its cloud security and compliance solution,” the company said in a press release, “as well as expand sales and marketing efforts and customer success programs to meet rapidly increasing demand.”

DivvyCloud was founded in 2013 as hybrid cloud concepts were coming to the market. Hybrid clouds are systems where some data would be hosted on a public platform while other data would be on a private cloud only accessible within the company. The hybrid system allows employees to access some company data without going through IT, but also opens the company up to more security holes.

DivvyCloud scans that barrier and helps to close unintended openings to the internal company cloud through the public platform.

It has been a year of growth for the company, which doubled its customer base — including new contracts with Kroger and Pizza Hut — and doubled its staffing over the last year, according to the press release.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations

ChurnZero — a Crystal City-based company aimed to specifically combat customer attrition through better software management — recently scored $7 million in Series A funding.

The start up uses software to track how customers use a company’s product and the likelihood of subscribers to renew. The end goal is using this information to allow companies to personalize the customer experience and quickly fix issues that are leading to customer attrition.

In a press release, the company said they would invest in additional product development and more customer support staffing.

You Mon Tsang, co-founder and CEO of ChurnZero noted in the press release that:

Building a customer success platform that integrates data and customer touchpoints from a myriad of sources, generates insights and analytics, and kicks off workflows and communications is a tough technical project and is a proud achievement for our team. But our real achievement is creating a happy and successful customer base. Our growth has been testament to our efforts so far and I am thrilled to have Baird Capital as partners to invest further in the company and in the ecosystem.

The funding was led by Baird Capital, a venture capital investment group.

The new funding was more than triple what ChurnZero had raised since its founding in 2015, increasing the total funding from $3 to $10 million.

Image via Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations

Crystal City-based startup 4stay aims to help more students find affordable housing with ambitious plans to quintuple their current reach, thanks to some new funding.

On the heels of raising $1 million in angel investments, last week the state-funded nonprofit Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced that its CIT GAP Funds would be investing in 4stay, according to a press release. The size of the investment was not disclosed.

“As someone who has worked in student housing for almost 10 years and lived the pain of many housing challenges, we have seen firsthand the difficulties and frustrations of looking for housing on college campuses,” Akobir Azamovich, co-founder and CEO of 4stay, said in the press release. “4stay is solving these challenges by providing an online marketplace to book furnished rooms around campuses. We also provide $100K insurance, host pay guarantee, and zero deposit to protect students, parents, and hosts.”

The site’s functionality is similar to rental site Airbnb, with students searching for available off-campus housing based on a variety of factors like the number of roommates or length of stay. Types of homes range from apartments to basement rooms in someone’s house, but all locations are required to be fully furnished with students having a bedroom of their own.

“We are grateful for the support of CIT GAP Funds, whose investment will help us further the acceleration of our product development as well as help spread the word through increased marketing efforts,” said Faridun Nazarov, co-founder and COO.

The company currently partners with over 100 schools, but with the CIT investment announced plans to bring on an additional 500 schools over the next 12-18 months. Part of the expansion plans include opening up in new student housing markets in Canada and Europe.

Upcoming offerings planned for the site include features to match users with other residents and the ability to book with room providers like school dorms or student housing companies.

Photo via Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated 3 p.m.) Fend — a Ballston-based startup that adds a physical component to the data transfer process to reduce hack-ability — has won a key Department of Defense contract.

The company’s technology transmits information from a data-collecting source, like a piece of industrial equipment, in a unidirectional beam into the second piece of equipment that links with the cloud network. The physical barrier reduces the possibility of hacking through a network.

The startup won a $1.6 million contract to install devices at an Army Corps of Engineers facility starting in June as part of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.

According to the Department of Defense project description:

On-board processors enable Fend’s hardware to communicate with protected equipment using common protocols and transmit this information to an on-site network or cloud service. Fend’s [technology] would serve the unmet needs of critical infrastructure managers across [the Department of Defense] by quickly enabling secure access to equipment data.

Dunn said part of the new contract will be putting the project through the wringer to see if it can survive in the field.

“We tested program out in the field and it worked for extended periods of time,” said Colin Dunn, Fend’s founder. “Probably looking at several dozen [pieces]. We need other rigorous scientific tests to make sure the data going into the device is the data going out. There’s also performance tests and environmental tests — seeing if it works in hot and in cold.”

Dunn said the project has evolved some since the initial design, like streamlining the number of ports on the box and figuring out ways to make the product more cost effective and rugged.

“This opens up a lot of doors,” said Dunn, “not just for military, but opening to the commercial sector by showing that it’s good enough for the military.”

The new contract has allowed Fend to expand, with the company currently looking to hire a project manager, electrical engineer, a data scientist and a few people in sales.

Photo courtesy Fend

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The new frontier of user interface isn’t a keyboard, controller or a touch screen — Ballston-based startup Modev says it’s your voice.

Modev aims to help developers understand voice controls and fully understand the potential and challenges of programming for voice controls.

The main venue for this education is a series of summits where programmers and experts talk about the latest developments.

Pete Erickson, founder of Modev, said one of the big challenges Modev works to solve is helping developers understand just how different developing for voice controls is.

“People are building for mobile, but how do you develop for voice?” Erickson asked. “When mobile came out, user experience was the big new profession. Now, it’s conversational designers. You can’t just slap a voice on the front end — you have to build that from the ground up.”

The current market is for functional home interfaces, where a monotone robot can change the channel or lower the temperature. But Erickson said the market is going to rapidly move towards increasingly realistic conversations.

“Voice is going to be all about customization,” Erickson said. “Just as with mobile apps, voice can measure preferences and habits and be used to synthesize custom voices.”

Erickson says a person using the voice activation for day-to-day home functions will need a different voice to interact with a 7 year-old or an elderly person with dementia.

Modev started ten years ago in a pizza shop in Rosslyn. Erickson had just gotten married and moved to D.C. after years of working in the Seattle technology industry and wanted to meet with other locals who worked in smartphone development. Within a year, the group had 1,000 members.

By then, Erickson started to brand the group as Modev — a portmanteau for mobile development. The group’s first development conference had 325 attendees, and Erickson decided to turn the group into his full-time business.

A decade later, the group has events across the country and in places like Hong Kong. Erickson said most of the money comes from sponsorship, which also gave them the connections to put together the first conference on developing voice controls for Amazon’s Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant.

Rather than hold one central conference, Erickson said the team spent three months of 2017 traveling to 10 cities to meet with developers and help them build for Alexa.

Modev hosts several events every year focused around different aspects of development, like the upcoming VOICE Summit on July 22 in Newark, New Jersey or the management-focused EXO Software Leadership summit on Sept. 15 in Aspen, Colorado.

There are nearly 400 proposals currently being sifted through for Modev’s big conference planned for the VOICE Summit. Founder Pete Erickson’s team is sorting through the projects currently and narrowing it down to 75-100 projects that will have a chance to give a demonstration. The conference last July was expected to have 1,500 attendees. Over 3,000 showed up.

But as they’ve been going through the projects, Erickson said he believes there’s potential to do something newer and bigger. Erickson likes the in-person conferences, but he also has first-hand knowledge of how valuable online conferencing can be.

There are nearly 20 people working at Modev, but the headquarters is just Erickson sitting at a desk in the Ballston Techspace coworking space. Erickson said most of the company is spread out across the country now, and they collaborate online. It’s an experience that Erickson says the company can use to change the way the conferences are held.

Rather than host an in-person conference with a limited number of attendees and performances, Erickson said work has already started for a conference on Feb. 20, 2020, that will live-stream worldwide with a broader selection of presentations.

Photo via Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Ballston-based tech startup Federated Wireless is taking advantage of new changes to the Federal Communications Commission’s rules to expand its business partnerships.

On March 12, Federated Wireless announced a new partnership with Cambium Networks, an Illinois-based internet provider, to use frequencies newly available for commercial wireless use.

Federated Wireless works on making new frequencies available for commercial use and ensuring that those frequencies do not interfere with other signals. This allows — for example — automatic cash registers to securely interface or factories to wirelessly link their information systems.

Federated Wireless offers its wireless access through the Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service initiative (CBRS), which makes a subset of the airwaves open for commercial use.

“While the traditional licensed spectrum approach has served the largest U.S. mobile operators well, it has also constrained network operators like [wireless providers] who operate smaller networks throughout the U.S.,” Scott Imhoff, vice president of product management and marketing at Cambium Networks, said in a press release. “CBRS changes everything — unlocking a large slice of spectrum for broader commercial use.”

Federated Wireless said the new partnership was made possible by a change in FCC regulations on Priority Access Licenses (PAL). In October, new rules opened up the available spectrum even further for commercial development. The new FCC regulations allow those who are holding PALs but aren’t using them to lease the spectrums to private enterprises.

Part of the change allows wireless internet service providers room to work together on certain frequencies and create a market where groups like Federated Wireless can go toe-to-toe with telecommunications giants by pooling their resources.

“The proposal also opens the opportunity for a fluid and vibrant secondary market for PALs, addressing the PAL needs for many enterprises,” Kurt Schaubach, chief technology officer for Federated Wireless, said in a blog post. “The PAL rules state that the licenses obtained within a county must be used or they will revert to [general] use. This actually encourages PAL holders who aren’t using their licenses to lease them to… other enterprises, giving these properties a competitive edge in the market.”

Photo courtesy Federated Wireless

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